The pinnacle of Errol Flynn's string of swashbuckling adventures...The most expensive film Warners had ever made (until 1938), and in glorious Technicolor, to boot...The film with the most cherished of Erich Wolfgang Korngold's many film scores...The film that literally set the standard for every 'Robin Hood' and 'Knighthood' movie since...One of the greatest films, not only of the 1930s, but of all time...THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD is, in EVERY sense of the word, a CLASSIC, and the new DVD edition is LONG overdue!
The story of Sherwood Forest's favorite bandit had been a movie staple since silent films (Douglas Fairbanks' acrobatic 1922 version was regarded as one of his finest roles), and the WB, riding high on a string of hits by Fairbanks' younger and sexier successor, Errol Flynn, knew they had all the elements in place to create a grand entertainment that no other studio could match!
Originally intended for James Cagney, the property had languished for three years, until Errol Flynn exploded onto the scene, and the studio knew they had the actor 'born' to play the role. Not wishing to run into legal problems with United Artists, who'd produced the 1922 film, an original script, incorporating elements of "Ivanhoe", ancient legends, medieval ballads, a popular 19th century stage production, and a bit of Howard Pyle, was written by Norman Reilly Raine and Seton I. Miller (with some uncredited assistance by Rowland Leigh). Casting nearly all of their "British Colony" in speaking roles, the studio brought back Alan Hale to reprise his 1922 role of Little John (an excellent choice, as Flynn and Hale had terrific rapport), casted rotund comic actor Eugene Pallette (Guy Kibbee was the first choice) as a gravelly-voiced Friar Tuck, and Flynn's LIGHT BRIGADE costar, Patric Knowles, as Will Scarlett (David Niven was unavailable). As the villains, Claude Rains played the fey Prince John, and Basil Rathbone (whose duel with Flynn in CAPTAIN BLOOD was a film highlight) was perfection as the villainous Sir Guy of Gisbourne, Maid Marion's Norman suitor, and Robin's arch-nemesis. In the role of Marion, could anyone OTHER than Olivia de Havilland have been cast? Flynn and de Havilland had already done two films together (and would do four more, after ROBIN HOOD), and their chemistry was so perfect that 1930s screen magazines were always hinting of a romance between the two (there wasn't, despite overtures by Flynn; they remained simply friends, with Olivia and Errol constantly playing pranks on each other).
Not that the production was problem-free; the original director, William Keighley, was axed after the location shooting was completed, as the studio didn't like his approach to the script and actors; Michael Curtiz, who had 'made' a star of Flynn, in CAPTAIN BLOOD, was quickly brought in, adding his sense of drama, lighting (the
'light-and-shadow' climactic duel between Robin and Sir Guy was a Curtiz 'trademark'), and style. Both Curtiz and Keighley would share the 'Director' credit when the film was released.
THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD was Warners' biggest box office hit of 1938, became a multiple Academy Award winner (with the most statuettes of any film that year), and it's luster has only increased through the years, being named as one of the AFI's 100 Greatest Films of All Time. This is a classic that TRULY lives up to the term, and is an absolute MUST for your DVD collection!
Although James Cagney was the original choice, Flynn proved to be the definitive Robin Hood. It is possible but unlikely that a better portrayal of the 12th century folk hero will ever be filmed. The screenplay is based on the works of Sir Walter Scott. The cast is superb. The direction crisp and sure, once Warner Brothers replaced William Keighley with Michael Curtiz. In the latest DVD version, both image and sound are restored to their original clarity. Apparently no expense was spared to give this film production values of the highest possible quality. Although renowned for his indelible portrayal of Sherlock Holmes, Basil Rathbone could just as easily play the villain which he does in this film as Sir Guy of Gisbourne. His climatic sword fight with Flynn allows both to match wits as well as blades as they make their way throughout the castle. This exciting sequence offers probably the best example of the talents of cinematographers Sol Polito and Tony Gaudio. Special credit should also be given to Erich Wolfgang Korngold's rousing musical score. He also composed the scores for two other films directed by Curtiz and starring Flynn, Captain Blood (1935) and The Sea Hawk (1940).
Given the rapid development of various digital technologies, we now tend to take special effects in films for granted. Almost anything seems possible. Not so 65 years ago when The Adventures of Robin Hood was filmed. Curtiz and his crew had to solve all manner of problems to recreate not only Sherwood Forest but an entire medieval society. What they achieved is stunning. Indeed, forests have played an important role throughout centuries of British literature, from Beowulf to Harry Potter. Being a child when I saw this film for the first time, I was enchanted by the idea of escaping into lush green woods where I could pretty much live the way I wanted to with my friends. Not have a care in the world. I envied Robin Hood and his companions. Many decades later, lush green forests still have for me a special appeal which I really can't adequately explain. Perhaps it all began with this film.
I am eager to observe the reactions of my grandchildren to the Two-Disc Special Edition. Of course, they will have little (if any) interest in the truly special features which include a commentary by film historian Rudy Behlmer, Warner Night at the Movies (1938) introduced by Leonard Maltin, a new documentary, Welcome to Sherwood (2003), outtakes and the studio's annual year-end blooper reel, a "Robin Hood Through the Ages" featurette, "A Journey to Sherwood Forest" travelog, another documentary Glorious Technicolor (1998), two shorts: "Cavalcade of Archery" (1946) and "The Cruise of the Zaca" (1952), "galleries" which display historical art, costume design, concept drawings, cast/crew photos, and publicity, and the audio only of "The Robin Hood Radio Show" and Korngold piano session.
However, I expect them to enjoy this film almost as much as their grandfather once did...and still does.
on October 22, 2003
There are a small number of films in the history of Hollywood that can actually be considered perfect. "The Adventures of Robin Hood" with the incomparable Errol Flynn is one of them. With over a hundred reviews already, there is little for anyone to add. I will, however, provide a brief summary as to why this film is indeed perfect, a term I use very rarely.
The cast--the greatest of all swashbucklers at the peak of his charm and athleticism, Errol Flynn-- Olivia De Havilland, a lovely woman, a fine actress and an ideal partner for our hero--Basil Rathbone, oozing evil from every pore--Claude Rains, conniving and sinister as always--Eugene Palette, a jovial yet formidable Friar Tuck--Alan Hale as rough and ready Little John--and on and on--even the most minor character is just right.
The sets and costumes--absolutely gorgeous--the archery contest is just one of many scenes where technicolour shows its stuff !
The Directors--Messrs. Keighley and Curtiz could not have brought this legend to life more expertly.
The Music--unforgettable Korngold score.
Add all these ingredients and you have true cinema magic !
Warner Bros--the DVD is marvellous, and the extras on the second disc ( detailed in other reviews ) provide more treats for the lucky viewer. What a beautiful job !
So--if you have that dreary Kevin Costner/Robin Hood DVD, throw it on the trash heap, and revel in the real thing ! A triumph !
on November 2, 2006
Yes this movie looks wonderful in High Definition. Every detail comes through on the transfer, which is better than even the two disc high resolution remastered special edition. On top of that, some of the extras are in HD. The Looney Tunes in HD look AWESOME. If you can, make this movie one of your first HD purchases. Every classic motion picture should look this good in your home.
on December 9, 2008
This 1938 TECHNICOLOR Classic is OUTSTANDING period!!!
The Standard DVD 2 Disc set is wonderful and if you have it with an up-converting DVD player it will give you near HD quality picture (480P)and sound for many years. This 65th Anniversary set is loaded with every extra including a day at the movies 1938 style with newsreel, cartoon and feature.
If you have a BLU-ray/HDMI home Theater System and want to know why buy a 1938 Standard Picture Movie NOW, here's the answer. This Blu-ray version includes everything exactly like the above 2 DVD set. BUT there is one unbelievable difference. THE FEATURES PRESENTATION (at 1080p if you have HDMI))AND SOUND (5.1) ARE TOTALLY INCREDIBLE. The clarity and sound are so fantastic it feels like you are there in the movie. Errol Flynn is young and quite alive for this enjoyable classic tale of Robin Hood.
Believe me the colors, detailed costumes, beautiful movie sets, brings the Technicolor to its best ever. This is a must have for your HD Blu-ray / HDMI Home Theater Library. A great family based film. Enjoy!!
on October 2, 2003
As fine as this DVD surely is, for me the great miracle of this enterprise is that after 65 years, the separate dialogue and music tracks still survived, making the audio restoration far easier to pull off. I compared the video and audio of the DVD with the print on my VHS tape and the print which aired on cable channel Turner Classic Movies (TCM) just the night before the DVD release. These unrestored videos were grayer in color and obviously scratchy, but the sound was so bad I nearly needed subtitles. The new DVD displays audio and a picture of such clarity, I was bowled over by it. For the first time, I could actually hear crisp "s" sounds in the voices, and background noises, such as twittering birds and running water in the Sherwood Forest sequences. I was also glad to hear the cymbals in the orchestra track for a change, which help to make Korngold's magnificent score all the more heroic. A true success in every respect. Highly recommended!
on February 21, 2004
The Adventures of Robin Hood...this is, in my opinion, one of the best movies ever made. This Academy Award winning film flawlessly tells a story based on English legend, about Robin of Locksley (Errol Flynn), a noble Saxon forced to take up arms against the Normans as the Prince John, the king's brother, tries to take the throne in his King Richard's absence.
In turning outlaw, Robin's following grows, as the Normans levy harsh taxes and exact brutal retribution against the Saxon population if they are unable to sate the greedy and uncaring reign of Prince John, played by Claude Rains. Basil Rathebone plays Sir Guy of Gisbourne, a Norman noble supporting Prince John's absconding of the throne and vying for the hand in marriage of Maid Marion, a charge in the King's care, who falls in love with Robin once she sees that he is no mere thief, but a protector and provider of the people being oppressed by her Norman countrymen.
This film is a perfect example of every element of a movie coming together. The immaculate direction, perfect casting, exquisite music score, sharp and witty dialogue, beautifully expansive sets and scenery and highly detailed, colorful costumes...you are literally transported back to the 12th century as the movie draws you in and keeps your attention throughout. Errol Flynn becomes Robin, with his sly smile and cheerfully upbeat nature, even in the face of such adversity. The lovely Olivia deHavilland is Maid Marian, with her expressive eyes and loving nature. Claude Rains brings to life the character of Prince Richard perfectly, as the back stabbing opportunist trying to steal the throne. My favorite though has to be Basil Rathebone as Sir Guy of Gisbourne. He really creates a character the viewer loves to hate.
Given this was a 65th anniversary release of the movie from Warner Brothers, I was very pleased to see that they did right by the film. Not known for their including special features, Warner Brothers provides so many wonderful bits including making of features, outtakes, a look at other screen adaptations of the Robin Hood story, classic cartoons, historical materials, photo galleries, and so much more. I have only touched the tip of the iceberg, so to speak, so view the product page to see a complete listing. One thing I found exceptionally interesting was the recreation of a night at the movies, basically allowing us to see what it was like to go to the movies back in the late 30's, presenting newsreels, a cartoon, and other goodies prior to showing the feature. Quite an interesting experience to see how the movies were actually a full night of entertainment for people back in the day.
If you like spectacular epics with thrilling action and adventure, with a dash of comedic element, then this movie is for you. Heck, if you like movies in general, then treat yourself and your family, as they just don't get any better than this.
on November 20, 1999
The definitive interpretation! Nine years ago, I defended and supported this film version while the rest of my siblings took after the recent Kevin Costner adaptation. Years passed, the ballyhoo of which-movie-was-better died down, and the Costner flick is pretty good in its own way. However, that doesn't mean 1991's ROBIN HOOD: PRINCE OF THIEVES holds a candle to 1938's THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD.
After sixty years, the Errol Flynn version still holds up. It's difficult to pinpoint the movie's greatness, maybe because everything about it is memorable: There's the performances, with Flynn, Olivia DaHavilland, Claude Rains, Basil Rathbone, Ian Hunter, and others giving the definite characterization to the centuries-old personalities. Also, there is the witty dialogue ('I'd condemn anything that left the task of holding England for Richard to outlaws like me!'), the gorgeous rainbow of costumes and production (brought vibrantly by the film's early use of 3-strip Technicolor), the great cinematography, the tight editing, and last but not least, the glorious award-winning score of Erich Wolfgang Korngold (the most memorable music pieces directed to Robin, Marian, and Richard the Lion-hearted). A classic of the Golden Age of Hollywood.
on February 8, 2009
I am a big believer that the additional resolution Blu-Ray provides can be wasted on older films where the picture quality wasn't there to begin with. That's NOT the case here. I've owned The Adventures of Robin Hood on LaserDisc and on standard DVD. The picture quality here is an obvious cut above, due no doubt to the obvious quality of othe original Technicolor print.
The supplemental features that are included on this disc, however, are what sets it apart. This should be the standard for Blu-Ray presentations. There are hours of additional material here, all of it interesting, all of it vital. I was reluctant at first to buy The Adventures of Robin Hood after seeing it so many times in the theater and on television and already having a standard version in my collection.
After having seen it now on Blu-Ray, I can say without hesitation that I was wrong. This is THE classic title to own and the format to own it in.
on July 26, 2003
In 1938 Australian-born motion-picture actor Errol Flynn won the heart of Maid Marian (Olivia de Havilland) and defeated his evil foes as Robin Hood in "The Adventures of Robin Hood", a legendary motion picture about a Saxon knight who steals from the rich and gives to the poor oppressed people of England, based on the wellknown english medieval legends. Released in 1938, the film won 3 Academy Awards for art direction, film editing, and musical score, and it was nominated for that of Best Picture. It was also Selected for Registry by the National Film Preservation Board (1995). "The Adventures of Robin Hood" is listed among Warner Bros. Studio's classic films and biggest hits and solidified Flynn's image as the dashing young swashbuckler hero who always saves the day.
Robin Hood (played by Errol Flynn) fights against the villainous Prince John (Claude Rains), who took control of the kingdom as regent when King Richard (Ian Hunter) was captured in Austria during his return from the Holly Lands after Third Crusade's end . Prince John conspires with Guy of Gisbourne (Basil Rathbone) and certain Norman Knights against his brother Richard the Lionheart so to become a King and oppresses the poor, yet faithful to Richard, Saxons. Robin Hood and his brave men waylay caravans that travel through Sherwood Forest, including one carrying Maid Marian (Olivia de Havilland). Robin Hood woos Maid Marian and helps King Richard regain his throne. Even based on legends, the movie has a quiet accurate historical set and a very interesting depiction of the conflict between Norman conquerors and Saxon vassals, in medieval England.
In my opinion this is one of the greatest film ever made in Hollywood. Undoubtebly it's the definitive Robin Hood version, where Errol Flynn surpassed Douglas Fairbanks who had played the same role in 1922. Kevin Costner's remake of this movie and newest version (1991) on the same medieval legend, although is quiet interesting and entertaining, seems to be inferior and mediocre in all comparison to this excellent, and brilliant large-scale epic.
Flynn's accent, (which sounded very English to most Americans), and the fact that he brought athletic exuberance, dashing good looks, and a sense of boyish fun, made him a natural choice to star as Sir Robin of Locksley. He plays one of his best roles with bravado and charisma ,appearing his great talent that made him a legend. Olivia de Havilland (who's really of Norman descent!!) gives an other great performance as the definitive Maid Marian, a sweetly beautiful romantic Norman heroine who's loyal to Richard and Robin's love interest.
Claude Rains, Basil Rathbone, Melville Cooper (the coward High Sheriff of Nottingham) and Montagu Love (as the Bishob of Black Canons) are simply perfect as villain conspirators and Rathbone displays his great talent in swordfighting in the magnificient final fencing between Gisbourne and Robin Hood which is one of the most famous scenes in cinema's history. Great and brilliant performances too from Alan Hale(Little John),Eugene Pallette (astonishing as Friar Tuck), Una O'Connor (Bess), Herbert Mundin(Much the Miller's Son) and Patrick Knowles(Will Scarlett) as Locksley's loyal companions.
Curtiz's direction is marvellous and authentic, art direction and costumes are splendid, Korngold's music score is unique and the Cinematography Color is astonisingly beautiful so that deserved to be awarded.
The movie is excellent and give it all the stars that I can.